The Freedom From Religion Foundation notified the Scranton School District that the district’s lease agreement with the Diocese of Scranton is illegal.
I noted that the lease was problematic because it would result in taxpayer monies being funneled into the diocese and because a provision in the lease states that the district refrain from “any activity that violates any teachings or policies which in any way is contrary to the teachings of the Roman Catholic faith and the Diocese of Scranton.” Taxpayer monies should not fund religion and public school districts should not enter into agreements with religious organizations [allowing religious organizations to have control over what occurs at public school districts].
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, following a complaint I sent to them, echoed my grievances and sent a letter to the district. The letter explains that the lease provision — stipulating the district cannot engage in activity contrary to Roman Catholic teaching — “is illegal, and the District must not abide by it or sign future contracts with similar provisions.”
The letter also cites federal court precedent concerning a case in which a school district entered into a lease with a similar provision as the lease between the Diocese of Scranton and the Scranton School District which notes “the government may not share with or delegate to a religious institution the power to veto aspects of a public school curriculum” and “the government must avoid not only the actual interference but also the potential for and appearance of interference with religion.”
Freedom From Religion Foundation’s letter ends noting, “A public school district should not enter into any contracts which condition its activity on the approval of a religious organization. It demonstrates unconstitutional endorsement of the views of the organization, here the Catholic Church.”
Read the letter below and, as always, feel free to comment.